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4 Things to Know Before Working in Retail

By: Ruby Brent

Working in retail is both a fun experience and one that teaches you a lot about yourself and communication. My first job in retail was at Sprinkles Cupcakes, and the lessons I learned from working there are both applicable to my time at any job, as well as in other areas of my life.

  • Find your allies as soon as possible. This is one of the first things I learned while working at Sprinkles. In any workplace, there are going to be co-workers that you don’t get along with; sorting those people out right away will make your life a lot easier in the long run.
  • Don’t partake in workplace gossip. When I first started, a lot of the people I became friends with began to tell me rumors they heard about my bosses. While I know it is hard to resist partaking in the gossip, it is far more rewarding to restrain from doing so. It prevents you from getting confronted later on about comments made, and it also will lessen the negativity, and hostility in the workplace. Not to mention, that unless the information you are receiving is directly from the person it is about, it is most likely false information.
  • The customer is always right. This by far is the most important thing to know when going into a retail position. Excluding the extremities, in almost every situation, even if the customer is being rude, defensive, and is clearly in the wrong, they are right. Instead of lashing out and risking your job, kill them with kindness (and maybe a little sass wouldn’t hurt either). If you are a good worker you ignore and do not let the customer’s behavior affect you. While I admit to not always responding to rude customers in the most kosher way, I was still able to be professional and keep my job.
  • Never sit still when business is slow. At Sprinkles, my job consisted of standing around all day and taking people’s orders, and whenever business hit a dry run I thanked the gods, but I didn’t stop working. Instead, I would fill the time with busy work such as cleaning the display, wiping down tables, making a dozen boxes, or even going outside the store to clean the windows. By doing so it showed my bosses that I was a hard worker, and I didn’t let customers see that business was slow. If a customer walked by the store and saw me, or any other associate sitting around doing nothing, they wouldn’t take a second look, but by seeing us move around it gives the illusion that we are busy. Also, dry spells can be very helpful in getting extra work done ahead of time so that you don’t have to worry about it later on when trying to close up shop. Therefore, don’t hesitate to ask your superiors if there’s anything more you can do and if there is do it! It makes everyone’s lives easier.


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